Three players who could improve the Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense right now

The Pittsburgh Pirates have these three players waiting in the wings at Triple-A who could give the offense a much-needed boost.
Sep 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Ji Hwan Bae (3) throws
Sep 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Ji Hwan Bae (3) throws / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 4
Ji Hwan Bae
Houston Astros v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

Ji Hwan Bae

Ji Hwan Bae was a semi-regular for the Pirates in 2023. He collected 371 plate appearances, but batted just .231/.296/.311 with a .272 wOBA, and 66 wRC+. Bae had an isolated slugging below .100 at .081, and while his 8.1 percent walk rate and 24.8 percent strikeout rate weren’t awful, it limited just how effective his 97th-percentile speed could have been.

Bae had an opportunity to secure an Opening Day roster spot, but an injury part way through Spring meant he would open the year on the injured list. He has since returned to action and has done everything he can possibly do to earn another look in the Majors. He only has 71 plate appearances, but 21 hits, two of which are home runs. While he has struck out 21 times, he’s also drawn 14 walks. 

Bae is hitting the ball really hard right now. He has a 94 MPH exit velocity, which would be a massive step forward from just 88.1 MPH last year. If Bae were to hit the ball that hard in the Majors, he would rank top 15 in average exit velocity. Now granted, it is a small sample size. I wouldn’t expect Bae to post an exit velocity higher than that of Yordan Alvarez or Adolis Garcia.

But if Bae can at least improve to the point where he has an 89-90 MPH exit velo in the Major Leagues, he may see an improvement. His launch angle clocks in at 7.4 degrees, which would also be a massive step forward, as he had just a 1.1-degree launch angle last year.

Bae has done great so far at Triple-A to open the year. Even though I don’t expect him to be in the 90th percentile or higher in exit velocity, a little added raw power and lifting the ball just a tad more could do wonders for Bae. Spraying line drives is probably what he’s best built for. Batting .270 with an average walk rate would put his speed to extremely good use.